We delve further into Dublin's history today, taking in some more of its most famous landmarks—and getting better acquainted with some of the great artists and writers who have called this place home.
1. Dublin Writers Museum
You may have heard that Ireland has produced a good writer or two, and this museum on the north side of the city is a wonderful place for lovers of Irish literature to explore. Highlights include the personal effects of James Joyce, Oscar Wilde, and other greats of the canon. Allow extra time to lose yourself in the museum's excellent bookshop.
2. Hugh Lane Gallery
This small art gallery punches above its weight with a strong collection of Impressionist works. There are also sculptures by Rodin, a stunning collection of Arts and Crafts stained glass by Dublin-born artist Harry Clarke, and numerous works by modern Irish artists. One room holds the maddeningly cluttered studio—transported in full from London—of the Irish painter Francis Bacon.
3. Millennium Spire
Dubliners have a love-hate relationship with this enormous spire, which was completed in 2003 (three years late) to commemorate the millennium. The 120m (395-ft.) stainless-steel spike is the tallest city-center structure and impossible to miss. We'd argue that the much-maligned monument has aged surprisingly well. The way that it changes color according to the time of day is particularly clever. It's metallic blue at sunrise and sunset, shiny gray in the day, and black at night with tiny lights on the upper sections.
4. General Post Office
O'Connell Street—though hardly the most attractive of Dublin's main thoroughfares—holds a vital place in Ireland's national psyche. This was where some of the fiercest fighting took place during the War of Independence in the early 1920s. Most iconic of all is the still-functioning Post Office building (known as the GPO), which became the headquarters of the rebels during the Easter Rising of 1916. The Declaration of Independence was read out on the front steps.
5. O'Connell Street Bridge
Stand on the north side of O'Connell Bridge by the statue of Daniel O'Connell, and you're in what many Dubliners believe is the very heart of the city. The man himself, cast here in bronze, was a politician and patriot in the 1800s. Edge past the photo-snapping tourists and look for the bullet holes in the angels ringing the base of the statue. The bridge is unique in Europe for being wider than it is long.
6. Ha'penny Bridge
Built in 1816, this graceful, pedestrian-only bridge across the River Liffey is universally known by the toll once charged to cross it—half a penny. In recent years it became traditional for couples to leave padlocks bearing their names latched to the bridge, before throwing the keys into the water. Dublin's city government now forbids the practice, seeing the locks more as an eyesore than a symbol of eternal love.
7. National Gallery of Ireland
George Bernard Shaw loved this place so much that he left it one-third of his royalties in perpetuity after he died. It's a great place to wander and wonder amid paintings by Caravaggio, Rubens, Goya, Rembrandt, Monet, and Picasso. The Irish national portrait collection is housed in one wing, while another area is devoted to the career of painter Jack B. Yeats (brother of poet W.B.).
8. Leinster House
Walk up to Merrion Square South and peek through the sturdy railings to see the two houses of the National Parliament: the Dáil (House of Deputies) and Seanad (Senate). Built in 1745 as the town house of the Earl of Kildare, who later became the Duke of Leinster, this is said to be a prototype for the U.S. White House.
9. Merrion Square
One of Dublin's most elegant Georgian squares, this is still considered the most noble part of town. Wander through the neat lawns and trees of its interior, Archbishop Ryan Park, and look out for the sculpture of Oscar Wilde reclining and gazing wistfully toward his childhood home, 1 Merrion Square (now the American University). Three sides of the square are lined with beautifully preserved Georgian houses, including Number Twenty Nine house museum.
10. St. Stephen's Green
This lovely city-center park is filled with public art, and there always seems to be something new and imaginative hidden amid its leafy walkways. Among them: a beautiful statue commemorating the Irish rebel Wolf Tone, an affecting monument to the Great Famine, and a garden of scented plants for blind visitors.
11. The Little Museum of Dublin
This endearing museum was built up thanks to the donations of ordinary Dubliners, who together assembled an extraordinary chronicle of everyday life in the capital in the 20th century. You'll see photographs, household items, newspapers, and assorted curios.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.